Today we ask our probing questions of Susan Prakasam from Microsoft. Singapore based Susan (LinkedIn, @suprakasam) is the Analyst lead for Microsoft Asia, and she won AR Professional of the Year for APAC in 2016.
- What’s been your career path to becoming an AR pro?
My longest stint has been in sales & business development before becoming an analyst. Both roles continue to hold value in my current avatar as an AR pro. The foundation in sales keeps me grounded in being customer centric and oriented to how analysts are best served to influence them, and my stint as an analyst helps me understand the regional landscape of analyst houses and the strengths each firm delivers on based on how it is structured and the methodology that is their unique proposition.
- What are your opinions of the IT Analyst Marketplace and where do you see it going? (What trends have you seen in the AR world – are they positive for clients?)
I love that there is a growing recognition for the work and influence that IT industry analysts deliver as customers continue to build on their transformation agenda. While the need for quantitative trackers and shipment data continue to decline in value, on account of being retrospective, there is a greater need for industry insights and technology blueprints / best practices based on regional and vertical adoption. I see this area being opportunistic for analyst firms given every client’s need to lead with relevant vertical industry solutions based on infrastructure and partner ecosystem maturity.
The ability to leverage syndicated research to derive custom insight is a well-honed offering by most firms and will continue to hold significant value to clients.
- What’s your typical day like?
Every day is different and offers the potential for analyst meetings/discussions both formally and casually as well as internal stakeholder conversations that look to insert analyst value into campaigns that are being executed, deals that can be backed by strategic insight and in funneling feedback to leadership teams based on analyst opinion and research results.
The great benefit about Microsoft’s culture steeped in productivity is the ability to work from anywhere and to truly achieve a balance in designing your day as it suits you best and in being your most productive self.
- Now, c’mon, tell me an Analyst horror story?
A scenario that stresses me out, not necessarily a horror story yet is one that revolves around last minute cancellations and no shows from analysts ahead of briefings that you’ve meticulously and thoughtfully planned. There are certain analyst voices that you want to amplify and when they cancel you know the discussion will lack the one that pushes and challenges the conversation in all the right ways.
- Tell us about one good experience you have had with an analyst or analyst firm?
There are so many great experiences I have on a routine basis that is rooted in the depth of relationships that we share with analysts. But what moves me to joy every single time, is when I see that an analyst has defended Microsoft’s strategy / products in a public forum via a Linkedin comment or a tweet /blog – totally makes my day! While the performance of the company itself is separate from the success of its AR program it’s great when the latter can demonstrate impact from the validation of the former.
- What’s your favorite niche analyst firm and why?
I love the work that smaller, niche firms like IBRS, Telsyte, Greyhound Research do. Given their significantly lower operating costs, they work with agility and an extreme customer centricity that the larger firms can’t always match.
- Any hobbies or favorite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
I am a foodie and Singapore’s multi-ethnic culture and heritage serves up a multitude of colorful cuisines, each with its own unique flavour and aroma, all of which I love. However, one of my recent favorites was an Ethan Stowell restaurant that my manager in Seattle treated us to called Red Cow in Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood. A classic French brasserie that had clearly mastered the bone marrow ; serving it hot with a reduced balsamic. The fact that it’s not a regular item on your menu coupled with the fact that it brought back great childhood memories makes it stand out in my current list of favorite food.
- What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
Next 30 mins is simple, determined to have this interview completed and sent over! Upcoming 6 months is far more complicated. Into our second quarter of the year, I feel the urgency to forge the right plans that are set up to drive maximum impact in converting analyst influence into customer consideration for our solutions to support/enable regional and global business goals for the fiscal.
- What innovations have you seen from other AR teams or developed in your own AR practice?
I would love to learn from the best practices of other AR teams in the region and completely see the lack of and need for a community in Asia where we could exchange notes.
One practice that we’ve invested in and seen great impact from has been in the regional Analyst Summit that Microsoft has run on an annual basis. The combination of being able to get a left to right perspective of the organization’s strategy globally, observe regional momentum and hear directly from customers and partners at these sessions have produced a high touch experience for analysts and an enormous positive impact for us. Going forward however, we’re looking to transfer much of this information exchange via a dedicated analyst portal as a self-service mechanism to scale even more timely and curated content to the community. Growth hacking and delivering maximum impact in smart ways certainly underlines our innovation strategy.
- In your experience, what’s the best way to get more engagement with the executives that you support?
Executing on a program that is tightly aligned to business goals and outcomes makes executives care about the AR program since in supporting it, they would be helping themselves. Through the work that analysts do – whether it is in the research that they author, the feedback they direct our way, or in the inquiries that we can facilitate – helps negotiate better stakeholder engagement. Thank fully in the New Microsoft, the combination of our growth mindset together with our culture that underscores humility it is a lot easier to ask and have executives prioritize analyst conversations.